When Carol Williams and Anna Kruchten first announced their December Challenge that we write about Our Craziest Transaction, one transaction quickly came to mind. It was early in my career in 1981, when a fellow agent sitting across the aisle from me, suggested that I list her neighbor’s house. I thought it odd, but also knowing they preferred working with buyers during that weak seller marketplace, I shook any un-benevolent thoughts aside.
The house I was to list belonged to a couple who had embarked on the adventure of divorce. Things were acrimonious between the two, and a court order had been imposed to sell the house. Mr. Seller was a Vietnam Vet, who had endured much during the war. Currently, he was working with firefighters during a robust wildfire season here in California. It wasn’t long after the home went into the MLS that a good offer was received. I contacted Mrs. Seller right away, and she was eager to accept the offer. However, I had difficulty reaching Mr. Seller on the fire lines. I finally managed to reach his supervisor, who advised that Mr. Seller was in a local hospital in the psyche ward. He had apparently, suffered a psychotic break, caused by depleted Lithium levels caused by heat he had endured fighting the fires.
Right away, I had concerns Mr. Seller may not be capable of contracting because of his condition. I called his attorney, who was representing him in the divorce. The response was, “Myrl, whether this client is capable of contracting isn’t your decision to make. Everyone wants this house sold. The Court has mandated it be sold. The Mrs. Seller wants it sold, and our Client wants it sold. Go get the signatures.” So oddly enough, I took a hospital elevator up to a psyche ward early on a Saturday morning, and met with Mr. Seller in his flip flops and hospital gown. I obtained his signature, and the transaction successfully closed.
What I have found amazing over the years, is the number of clients Mr. Seller has referred my way. It is a testament to the fact it is often the most difficult of transactions, which make us most valuable as real estate professionals - especially if transactions are handled with care.
Oh, and that agent who had referred this client to me . . . they refused to accept a referral fee. They understood what I had been up against and felt guilty they hadn’t disclosed ALL of the nuances of the dynamics this transaction would likely impose. They had been reluctant to list the home because of those dynamics, but were grateful I had handled it all with success!